Austal Launches 2nd Littoral Combat Ship

On Jan­u­ary 10, 2012, Austal’s Mobile, Alaba­ma ship­yard com­plet­ed the launch of the sec­ond 127-metre Inde­pen­dence-Vari­ant Lit­toral Com­bat Ship, “Coro­n­a­do” (LCS 4).

127-metre Inde­pen­dence-Vari­ant Lit­toral Com­bat Ship, “Coro­n­a­do” (LCS 4)
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The roll-out marked Austal’s sec­ond use of an inno­v­a­tive self-pro­pelled mod­u­lar trans­porter sys­tem to trans­fer the ship from the yard’s final assem­bly bay onto a dry­dock for launch. This sys­tem was first used a few months ago, in Sep­tem­ber 2011, to suc­cess­ful­ly launch USNS “Spear­head” (JHSV 1). Austal and the US Navy col­lab­o­rat­ed in the design of a new set of keel stands to sup­port the ship dur­ing con­struc­tion and facil­i­tate the tran­si­tion from the assem­bly bay. Austal’s own self-pro­pelled mod­u­lar trans­porters (SPMTs) sup­ple­ment­ed those of Berard Trans­porta­tion of New Iberia, LA, to pro­vide a total of 3,800 tons lift capac­i­ty, on some 104 axle lines.

In a three-step process, SPMTs lift­ed the entire ship and keel stands lift­ed the Coro­n­a­do almost three feet and moved the Lit­toral Com­bat Ship into the moored dry dock. Sup­port­ing close to 2,000 tons, the SPMT oper­a­tors; aid­ed by tug cap­tains; the dock mas­ter and the Austal launch mas­ter manoeu­vred “Coro­n­a­do” aboard the dry dock in an inci­dent-free oper­a­tion.

A major improve­ment in safe­ty and effi­cien­cy, the new roll-out method has shaved hours off the trans­fer process, and serves as a cap­stone in Austal’s effort to reduce cost and time required in future LCS deliv­er­ies.

The LCS and dry dock were then trans­port­ed down riv­er by tug to BAE Sys­tems South­east Ship­yard, Mobile, where the ship was ulti­mate­ly float­ed free of the keel stands, and was manoeu­vred from the dry­dock. The ves­sel was then towed back upriv­er to Austal’s facil­i­ty, where it will under­go final out­fit­ting and acti­va­tion before sea tri­als and deliv­ery to the US Navy.

The 127-metre Austal tri­maran seaframe is the plat­form for the LCS’s mis­sion and weapon sys­tems. This seaframe pro­vides supe­ri­or sea­keep­ing and avi­a­tion as a result of its long, slen­der cen­tral hull and small­er side hulls (“amahs”). The tri­maran hull­form pro­vides a large inter­nal mis­sion deck with a high pay­load car­ry­ing capac­i­ty. Locat­ed above the mis­sion bay is the enor­mous flight deck capa­ble of con­duct­ing dual H‑60 heli­copter oper­a­tions. The ver­ti­cal loca­tion of the flight deck on the tri­maran hull form pro­vides the high­est flight deck ele­va­tion on a com­bat­ant ship oth­er than a major amphibi­ous ves­sel or air­craft car­ri­er.

The launch of “Coro­n­a­do” (LCS 4) close­ly fol­lows the chris­ten­ing of the 103-metre USNS “Spear­head” (JHSV 1) and the cel­e­bra­tion of the keel lay­ing cer­e­mo­ny for “Choctaw Coun­ty” (JHSV 2). Mod­u­lar con­struc­tion has also begun on JHSV 3 and “Jack­son” (LCS 6) – the first of the 10-ship US Navy con­tract award­ed to Austal, as the prime con­trac­tor, a year ago — in Austal’s 65,000 square metre Mod­ule Man­u­fac­tur­ing Facil­i­ty (MMF). Austal also has “Mont­gomery” (LCS 8) and JHSV 3 through JHSV 7 under con­tract.

For the LCS and JHSV pro­grams, Austal is work­ing in a part­ner­ship with Gen­er­al Dynam­ics Advanced Infor­ma­tion Sys­tems, a busi­ness unit of Gen­er­al Dynam­ics. As the ship sys­tems inte­gra­tor, Gen­er­al Dynam­ics is respon­si­ble for the design, inte­gra­tion and test­ing of the ship’s elec­tron­ic sys­tems includ­ing the com­bat sys­tem, net­works, and seaframe con­trol. Gen­er­al Dynam­ics’ proven open archi­tec­ture approach pro­vides afford­able capa­bil­i­ties to the fleet quick­ly and effi­cient­ly.

Austal employs over 2,100 high­ly qual­i­fied ship­builders, engi­neers and sup­port staff in the Unit­ed States and is steadi­ly grow­ing towards 4,000 employ­ees.

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